Intel scores Nokia Linux set-top box deal

Do we see a reference platform coming on?

The Linux-based Internet-capable set-top boxes Nokia demonstrated last month are to go into production next year, using Intel chips. The news is obviously not terribly encouraging for Microsoft and for the low-cost chip outfits who were looking to set-top boxes for salvation (although most of them seem to have keeled over anyway), but it's worse than that - the whole European market may be poised to fall to Linux, with Intel grabbing a goodly share of it. Nokia is one of the supporters of the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) standard, which was unveiled in Berlin last month. Also on board are Sony, Philips, Panasonic, Canal+, the BBC and German research institute IRT. MHP is intended as an open, Java-based standard for next generation set-top boxes, and is at least in theory OS-agnostic. Some of its supporters are of course backing several horses, but the Nokia-Linux-Intel combination is likely to be influential - Nokia's mobile phone activities are more visible than its set-top and multimedia terminal efforts, but it's still a serious player there. Intel and Nokia aren't particularly specific about the systems they're designing. They say the first ones will be out in second half next year (which is also when MHP boxes are due), and they'll use "open standards and specifications including DVB, Internet protocols, ATVEF, and open source [software] including Linux and the Mozilla browser." But from what Nokia's said already it's pretty obvious that there will be multiple different implementations that can be used with cable, broadcast, satellite, mobile and landline telephony. Nokia's current pride and joy in this space is the MediaScreen, a tablet device that combines digital TV broadcast with a mobile telephony return pipe. When it rolls out, it'll likely also include Bluetooth, making it both a wireless home terminal and a mobile one that can be used in the car and elsewhere. ®

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